1986 Toyota Celica liftback

A liftback is a subtype of hatchback in which the rear cargo door, or hatch, is more horizontally angled than on an average hatchback. As a result, the hatch is lifted more upwards than backwards to open, hence the name.[1]


The term "fastback" is sometimes used interchangeably with "liftback", but in a fastback, the rear of the car has an uninterrupted slope from the roof to the rear bumper;[2][3][4] this is usually not the case with liftbacks.

The term was used officially, among others, by Toyota, for example, to distinguish between two 5-door versions of the Corolla E90 sold in Europe, one of which was a conventional 5-door hatchback with a nearly vertical rear hatch while the other one was a 5-door liftback.

Opel Vectra C as a 4-door sedan (top) and a 5-door liftback (bottom). The length of the rear overhang is the same, and so are other dimensions of the car.
2014 Ford Mondeo Mk V (Ford Fusion) liftback. This variant is not sold in the US.

In Europe, the term "liftback" often implies a three-box design with a profile similar to a sedan, although the length of the rear "third box" varies. It may be non-existent (Nissan Primera P12), very short or vestigial (1985 Toyota Celica liftback) or long enough for the vehicle to be confused with a conventional sedan which may be offered alongside it (Mazda 6 GG1, Opel Vectra C). While the majority of today's liftbacks feature smooth, flowing lines, making it difficult to tell where one "box" ends and another starts, the same applies to sedans, which makes the two body styles even more difficult to tell apart at first glance.


Liftbacks were the mainstay of manufacturers' D-segment offerings in Europe in the 1990s to late 2000s, having become popular in the 1980s. It was common for manufacturers to offer the same D-segment model in three different body styles: a 4-door sedan, a 5-door liftback, and a 5-door station wagon. Such models included the Ford Mondeo, the Mazda 626 and 6, the Nissan Primera, the Opel Vectra and Insignia, and the Toyota Carina and Avensis. There were also models in this market segment available only as a 5-door liftback or a 4-door sedan, and models available only as a 5-door liftback or a 5-door station wagon. Often, the liftback and the sedan shared the same wheelbase and the same overall length, and the full rear overhang length of a conventional sedan trunk was retained on the five-door liftback version of the car.

Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz were not part of this trend in the 1990s, as they did not offer their D-segment and executive cars as 5-door liftbacks back then. However, starting around the year 2009, Audi and BMW started to sell liftbacks, referring to them as "Sportback" (Audi) or "Gran Turismo"/"Gran Coupe" (BMW). Interestingly, this occurred not long after some other manufacturers started to retire D-segment liftbacks from their European lineup.

The second-generation Skoda Superb, produced from 2008-2015, is a car that functions both as a liftback and a sedan. It features a "Twindoor" trunk lid that can be opened using hinges located below the rear glass, or together with the rear glass using hinges at the roof.[5]

In the USA, 5-door liftbacks are much less popular but growing in popularity.[when?] Although the Tesla Model S is a liftback, the manufacturer refers to it as a sedan.


  1. ^ Jaza, Reza N. (2008). Vehicle dynamics: theory and applications. Springer-Verlag. pp. 30–31. ISBN 978-0-387-74243-4. Retrieved 3 March 2014. A hatchback car is called a liftback when the opening area is very sloped and is lifted up to open.
  2. ^ Flammang, James M. (1990). Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1976-1986. Krause Publications. p. viii. ISBN 9780873411332. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  3. ^ "fastback". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  4. ^ "fastback". The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  5. ^ "YouTube video".

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